Bradley still searching for minutes 

October, 12, 2011

HARRISON, N.J. -- With so much newness around the U.S. national team, it's been easy to forget about the old guard.

Oguchi Onyewu reminded us Tuesday that some of the team's veterans still have things to offer Jurgen Klinsmann's squad. Gooch's throwback performance in the 1-0 loss to Ecuador was the highlight of a disappointing evening, but it wasn't the only encouraging display from a vet.

While the five second-half changes helped prevent the Americans from finding their rhythm, DaMarcus Beasley, Jonathan Spector and Michael Bradley quietly put in competent shifts as substitutes at Red Bull Arena. Each faces unique challenges to earn more minutes, but all are still young enough to compete for time with Klinsmann's new recruits all the way to Brazil 2014.

"We have that experience of playing in big leagues around the world," Spector told us after the match. "And because we've been around for a number of years, our age can be deceiving for some people."

It's true: Onyewu, Beasley, Spector and Bradley -- who have 252 U.S. caps among them -- are still in their 20s.

"We have a good nucleus," Tim Howard said. "And one of the positives of bringing all these new guys through is it just gives us more depth."

Nowhere does the team have more competition for spots than central midfield, which makes Bradley's situation particularly intriguing.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.